I'm Dangerous With Love -- Film Review

You’ll be scared straight by this harrowing doc about an experimental treatment for drug addiction.

Drug addiction has long been a popular subject for documentaries, but few have conveyed its nightmarish aspects more vividly than Michel Negoponte's "I'm Dangerous With Love."

Benefiting from having a particularly memorable central figure in the form of punk rock singer Dimitri Mugianis, the film goes off in an exotic direction with its exploration of a controversial experimental treatment, not to mention its depiction of an African shaman ritual.

Mugianis, once the front man for the band Leisure Class, was a longtime (20 years) drug and alcohol addict who cured himself using the hallucinogen Ibogaine. He now devotes himself with an almost addictive ferocity to providing the same treatment to fellow users, an illegal practice since the drug is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance.

While clearly seen to be effective in the numerous grueling scenes showcasing Mugianis guiding various addicts through detox, it also carries no small amount of risk, producing dangerous side effects that could possibly include death.

After a session in Canada goes particularly wrong and the subject nearly dies, Mugianis decides that he needs more expertise with the drug and proceeds to travel to the African country of Gabon, where the plant root has long been used in shamanic rituals. There he undergoes one such ceremony himself, with harrowing results.

Filmmaker Negroponte, no stranger to the subject thanks to his acclaimed documentary Methadonia, doesn’t provide much in the way of informational context that would give viewers a better knowledge of the subject matter. He instead uses a more stylized and heavily visual approach, abetted by often darkly comic narration.

While the film is occasionally frustrating in its lack of analysis, it nonetheless delivers a riveting portrait of the driven and troubled Mugianis, while providing plenty of food for thought along the way.

Opens Jan. 12 (First Run Features)
Production: Blackbridge Productions, Cactus Three
Director/director of photography/editor: Michel Negroponte
Executive producers: Julie Goldman, Krysanne Katsoolis, Caroline Stevens
Screenwriters: Nick Pappas, Joni Wehrli
Animation: Lisa Crafts
Music and sound design: Brooks Williams, Beo Morales
Not rated, 85 minutes